June 27th 2010 saw my return to road races after a year hiatus. My last road race had been the Corrib Pub 5K in 2009 after the Boston Marathon. I have written about hitting the wall in October 2009 so I will not belabor the point here. I have run the Charles River Run 5K, The Harvard Pilgrim 10K, Lexs Run for MDA, The Tufts 10K and today the SuperHero 5K. Above is the photo of me as Batgirl.
Yesterday I was blessed to be part of the #NERTS
meet up with @reallynotarunnr @kissing_frogs @ninaruns
at the Oak Square Scare Run. I saw Doug aka @reallynotarunnr just pour it on and he set a PR for his 5K. I saw the precious 3 Little Mice all cross the finish line together. This was Ashley's aka @anivs18 first road race since her triumphant Chicago Marathon run. Doug and Eric Derrico
couldn't join us for brunch but @chrisfontana
, Ashley's boyfriend joined us and we were the fabulous fivesome at the Talk of the Town Diner. We had tweeted about the plans during the week and here we were exchanging 'war stories' of marathon training runs and the trials and tribulations and triumphs of being a runner. My husband and I were the 'elders' in the group but we were laughing and sharing joy as there were no age difference.
It had been chilly and windy and I was wearing a turtleneck and cape along with capris and winter silks. I forgot how wonderful and warm running clothes are and being dressed in just a 'regular' shirt and cape, I had 'caught a chill'. My body had a difficult time adjusting to being out in the cold after having temps in the 70's this week. But I knew it wasn't just the cold intolerance kicking in. I felt as though my body were in a fight with itself. Which way would I go? I could feel my body battling it out with post polio. I had a hard time feeling relaxed and at peace. I felt chilled to the core. What was going on here? I decided to get still and meditate. I realized that being a part of the running community - being loved and embraced for who I am is such a new experience in my life especially after I 'withdrew' last October until this June. Once I realized what was happening I made a decision - I was going to go for a PR today.
I looked at the website from Lexs Run
. I relived the precious moments of the day by looking at the photos and I checked my time - 46:29. I wrote down my goal for today 46:25. A sub 15 minute mile for sure. I meditated and visualized. I must admit, I felt like a kid whose training wheels were taken off of the bike (although I never learned how to ride a bike) - smile. Eric had been at the Charles River Run 5K; I had an appointment with him shortly after the Harvard Pilgrim 10K; he was at Lexs Run where I PR'ed and he did pre and post race massage and stretching; I saw him the Sunday before and the Tuesday after Tufts 10K. I don't have an appointment with Eric until 11/10th. So I had to use the super hero power of my mind to recall how my body feels when he works on me and this is a testament to the work he does. I feel the stretches and the opening of the joints and the relaxation as he massages the areas which have held tension for decades. I released the old beliefs and feelings I harbored for decades about my body. I told myself I want to PR the race tomorrow. I trained hard this past week and have been reading everyone's running blogs. I have been there with @Luau
as he BQ'ed. I was with @adamm9
as he crossed the finish line of Smutty Nose. I felt the triumph of Ashley crossing the finish line of Chicago. I saw Doug leave everything on the road yesterday. I am a part of this community now. Their energy and passion is infectious.
As I fell asleep last night I saw the time 46:25. I did relaxation and meditation asking God to help me through tomorrow's run. I slept well. I did have an early morning dream in which I released anger. I awoke feeling refreshed. I stretched, used my foam roller and fueled with my oatmeal, two pieces of whole wheat toast and juice. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Breathe deep and stay relaxed. I knew that I was going to need my iPod to stay in the zone. I wasn't sure if it was going to be cold so I layered and had gloves and hat to ensure that I would be comfortable during the race. My husband knew of my plan and he was totally on board to pace me to set my PR.
Before we left, my husband asked me to roll down the car window so that he could hand me his wallet, and other items to put in the glove compartment. We have power windows and a keyless ignition so I couldn't roll down the windows. He told me to use my super hero power. As we walked from our parking space to the race, we passed a policeman. My husband said, "You can take the day off. My wife and I are here to save the day." I was in character - Batgirl - a superhero and I was going to set a PR.
Last Thursday I was blessed to attend the Collaborative Medicine Working Group
at Mass. General Hospital. Eric introduced me to the group whose mission it is to provide opportunities for its members to share knowledge and experience in a wide range of approaches to health and healing. Thursday's presentation was Lifestyle Medicine with Stephan and Tiffany Esser
."The resources on this website are provided to help you maximize your physiologic, psychological and emotional health as you transition from surviving to thriving." Tiffany told me that she would be running the SuperHero 5K with 6 of her clients from her personal training practice. Now how does one go about meeting up with someone among at least a thousand people, 687 of whom would be at the starting line? Simple - you got it - use your super hero powers. Sure enough we met each other at the starting line. She took a photo of Tom and me and we hugged each other wishing each other a great run.
Gun time! We ended up in the front of the pack because there had been chaos at the starting line. Everyone was lined up the wrong way so we had to all turn around. No matter - Tom and I had done a great pre race warm up and I also remembered how I felt after Eric's pre race stretch/massage at Lexs Run so I knew I was gonna nail this race. At mile one we were told our time was 13:18. I almost cried - the last time I ran a 13 minute mile was the first mile of the Hyannis Half Marathon in 2009.Tom told me I had no time to react to the time -- we had a race to run and he was right.
In the middle of mile two, I could feel the nausea kick in. My heart rate was hovering around 170 a far cry from the 140 which is the peak heart rate for my age and sex. My legs felt strong - my stomach did not. So I decided that I needed to bring down my heart rate. My plan was to bring it down to 155 but when it got to 158, I said, "the hell with this" and began to run again. Mile 2 - I thought we were told our time was 38:06 and I thought oh my goodness, I ran my heart out, how can that be? Tom told me to look at my watch - it was 28:06. Okay, I know I'm gonna PR this thing - but by how much? The SuperHero 5K is an out and back race. I found myself running and moving in the moment. I wasn't thinking about how far we had run or how far we had to go. I hadn't experienced being in the zone with this intensity before. It was magical. My husband told me that Tiffany had passed us while we were running on the 2nd half of the course while they were going out with her Magnificent Seven. She was walking with her Super Fit Chicks. I didn't see her or hear her cheer us on. Tom said she could see I was in the zone and she smiled.
I knew I could not focus on how I was feeling; I focused instead on my music which had carried me through many training runs. I am so grateful for the iPod gift certificates we received at Lexs Run. My running playlist would get me through this along with my super hero husband and my super hero powers. As we heard the music at the finish line I looked at my watch and saw 40:00 - I knew this was mine. I wasn't sure how much farther we had to go but all of a sudden I just took off and crossed the finish line at 43:44 - 14:05 min/mile and 2.85 minutes off of Lexs Run. Yes I did cry. My average heart rate was 170 with a peak of 185!
As we were cooling down Sponge Bob Square Pants waves at us. It was none other than Spencer Aston who fitted me with my first pair of running shoes at Marathon Sports in February of 2008. He congratulated me on my PR. We went over to see our results. I looked at my place in my division and it said 8 - I said out loud 8 - I was 8th in my Division? And a woman in front of me looked at me and said, well I'm 7th and we look like we are in the same division. She was 54 years old. We joked about the thousands of women in our division and we placed 7 and 8. Of course there were only 9 women in our division but it's still sweet to finish 8/9. We stepped over to the side and she was so excited that she had run her first 5K. She did the from Couch Potato to 5K program along with her niece. I mentioned that I had just PR'ed from a run I did - Lexs Run for MDA and then added that I live with a neurological disease - post polio.
Okay - if you are not sitting down - please do. Rita, my new 54 year old friend lives in Chicago. She came into town for this race with her niece, Laura Schell who lives in Boston. Rita's best friend is dealing with post polio syndrome and doing very poorly. She said that the doctors are warning her about not doing too much. She is terrified of what the future holds for her. I said, 'well the doctors told me the same thing and I said...' and Laura filled in, "screw that. So now you are running 5K's." I said, "well actually I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon," and with that she took down my information and cannot wait to tell her friend about me. I also mentioned that my interview on the Exceptional Women
show will air next Sunday. Purpose
, to quote Avenue Q,
IT'S THAT LITTLE FLAME
THAT LIGHTS A FIRE
UNDER YOUR ASS.
IT KEEPS YOU GOING STRONG
LIKE A CAR WITH A FULL
TANK OF GAS.
Yes there is an incredible joy in feeling the thrill of a PR. The joy comes in knowing you did something you did not or could not do the day before. There was an added thrill to this PR - that I have the opportunity to touch a woman who is sitting in fear of her future - as I once was just four years ago and then again last October. There is also an incredible joy in knowing the response from your fellow #NERTS as you share your victory. And you know what is incredibly sweet? That whether you ran your first 5K, BQ'ed (qualified for Boston for those of you who are not runners), or took 2:85 minutes off of a 5K, everyone celebrates with you. That joy and love fuel my journey.
And so we all have super hero powers. We have the power to show love, kindness and acceptance to our fellow traveler. We have the power to focus with intention and attain a goal we have set. We have the power to help transform the world with health, joy, happiness, peace, growth and be open to the Divine to guide us to exactly where we are supposed to be. Happy Halloween everyone and be sure to harness your super hero powers all year long.
To read more about my journey from surviving to thriving, visit Mary McManus.com
Be sure to place your holiday orders for my books of inspirational poetry. From 11/1/2010 through 1/31/2011 I will be donated 20% of book proceeds to the End Polio Now
campaign. Don't waste endless hours looking for the 'perfect' holiday card and then come up empty handed - let New World Greeting Cards handle all of your greeting card needs.
My husband Tom is a super hero and he is running the 2011 Boston Marathon for Childrens Hospital
. Stay tuned for details about our Music for Miracles A Cappella Fest Concert on 2/5. In the meantime, we welcome your donation of any size. Thank you!
God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
With love from my heart to yours,